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Posts Tagged ‘UNITED NATION’

ISLAMABAD, July 4: The food security situation in Pakistan has worsened over the past four years, resulting in a drastic increase in the proportion of population falling below the minimum acceptable level of dietary consumption, according to a United Nations report.

According to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals report for 2012, two-digit inflation and high food inflation significantly decreased the purchasing power of people, especially the poor.

The report expressed fears that Pakistan was lagging behind the target of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and indicators show that the target would not be achieved by 2015, the deadline for achieving MDGs.

The report expressed concern over a number of factors that have contributed to under-achievement against most of MDGs.

These include the slow economic growth or less than three per cent over the last three to four years.

With a labour force increasing at a rate of 3.2 per cent, the slow economic growth is not creating sufficient jobs for the new entrants to the labour market.

Besides poverty and unemployment issues, the income inequality in the country has always been on the rise. The share of consumption of the lowest quintile is currently 9.6 per cent against 40.3 per cent for the highest quintile. There also exist widespread gender inequalities.

The share of women in wage employment is the slowest in South Asia and Pakistan is not an exception to it.

Additionally, there are regional pockets where status of development is worst than other areas.

Notwithstanding the challenges, the report said, there are a number of opportunities to build on.

The increase in the share of provinces in NFC award and the 18th Amendment for decentralisation of governance at the provincial level will help development partners to work more closely with the end beneficiaries.

According to the report, Pakistan adopted 18 targets and 41 indicators against which the progress is measured. However, time series data against only 33 indicators were available.Of the total 33 indicators, progress on 20 indicators is lagging behind, slow on four indicators, on track three indicators, off-track one indicator while targets against five indicators have been met.

On a total of five indicators, Pakistan is either ahead or has achieved the target.

With regard to access to improved water source, Pakistan achieved the target when three sources of improved water, tap water, hand pumps and electric motor propelled water, are taken into account.However, the Pakistan MDG report of 2010 has not included ‘electric motor’ in the category of improved water source which makes the status at around 63 per cent against the 92 per cent.

According to the report, Pakistan has made some progress in combating HIV/Aids, malaria and other diseases; and promoting gender equality and women empowerment. However, progress rate is slow and additional efforts will be needed if the targets are to be achieved by the 2015 deadline.

On a positive note, the report recognised that Pakistan has one of the highest ratios of women parliamentarians in South Asia.

While bullish on the success recorded, the MDG report warns that the 2015 deadline is fast approaching and in order to achieve outstanding goals, governments, the international community, civil society and the private sector need to intensify their contributions.

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ISLAMABAD: At the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2012, Pakistan may be free of poppy cultivation, but the country still provides a vital transit route for smuggling of drugs worth $30 billion from neighbouring Afghanistan.

Speaking at the launch of the World Drug Report 2012 on Tuesday, officials from the United Nations welcomed the decline in poppy cultivation in Pakistan. In the same breath, however, they added that the country is a major route for the smuggling of drugs cultivated in Afghanistan, primarily through Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, and that drug cultivation can resurface in these areas if the Anti-Narcotics Force is not strict in its surveillance.

One-third of drugs produced in Afghanistan are smuggled to other countries via the coastal areas of Balochistan, the UN officials added.

Global numbers

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released the annual report about the state of drug cultivation, production, usage and transport in New York on Tuesday.

According to the report, at least 5% of the world’s adult population, or about 230 million people, are estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2010. Some $68 billion is generated globally from illicit drugs annually, and is mainly used in terrorist activities, human trafficking and the smuggling of arms.

According to the UNODC, $27 to $30 billion worth of drugs are smuggled from Afghanistan, via Pakistan, to other parts of the world annually; of this, drugs worth $1.5 billion stay in Pakistan.

Drug abuse and illicit trafficking continue to have a profoundly negative impact on development and stability across the world, the report says. Heroin, cocaine and other drugs continue to kill around 200,000 people a year, bringing misery to thousands of other peoples, insecurity and the spread of HIV, the report adds.

Drug cultivation

Global opium production amounted at 7,000 tonnes in 2011, up from the low levels of 2010 when diseases wiped out almost half of the crop yield.

Afghanistan maintained its position as the largest producer and the country’s opium production increased by 61%, from 3,600 toms in 2010 to 5,800 tonnes in 2011.

High prices and increase in demand are making opium production more attractive to farmers in South East Asia, the report says.

Poppy cultivation in South East Asia jumped 16% – from 41,000 hectares in 2010 to almost 48,000 hectares in 2011. Overall cultivation of opium doubled in South East Asia.

Externalities

Illicit drugs and related criminal networks undermine the rule of law, the report says.

Central America, for instance, faces rising levels of violence fuelled by transnational organised crime and drug trafficking. The region is now home to the highest homicide rates in the world.

Meanwhile, development in Afghanistan is being hindered by the highest rates of opiate prevalence in the world. In parts of Myanmar, farmers are trapped by food insecurity compelling them to grow poppies as a cash crop.

The challenge is also greatly testing West and Central Africa, which lies along one of the main drug trafficking routes to Europe.

Moreover, transit countries are no longer simply links in the chain of supply. About half of the cocaine trafficked through West and Central Africa now remains in the region.

Solutions

The drug, crime and corruption conventions of the UN form a solid basis for global solutions to these challenges, the report states, adding that these instruments offer a balanced approach to halt trafficking, promote viable alternatives to the farmers of cash crops, and offer drug users their health and human rights.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2012.

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UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that drone attacks are violations of human rights.

United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has said that drone attacks are violations of human rights and compensation should be given to the legal heirs of deceased.

 

The UN human rights chief called for a UN investigation into US drone strikes in Pakistan, questioning their legality and saying they kill innocent civilians.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay made the remarks at the end of a four-day visit to the country, where US drone strikes have on average targeted Islamist militants once every four days under US President Barack Obama.

Islamabad is understood to have approved the strikes on Al-Qaida and Taliban targets in the past.

But the government has become increasingly energetic in its public opposition as relations with Washington have nosedived.

She said that before giving a brief overview of my impressions during my four-day visit here, I would like to thank the Government for inviting me to Pakistan.

Since arriving on Monday, I have met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, his Advisors on Human Rights and National Harmony, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. I have also held talks with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court in Punjab Province, and with the Supreme Court Bar Association.

She said while in Lahore, I also met the Senior Advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab on issues relating to the devolution of powers to the provinces. And yesterday, here in Islamabad, I met the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Rights and the Special Committee of the Parliament on Kashmir.

Civil society organizations, journalists and lawyers have for many years played a vital role in promoting human rights in Pakistan during military dictatorships and civilian governments alike, and I met many of their leading representatives in both Islamabad and Lahore.

Pakistan is at a very important juncture in its efforts to consolidate democratic civilian rule. Since the restoration of democracy in 2008, the Government has taken a number of key initiatives on human rights. During the past four years, for example, Pakistan has ratified the two key overarching international human rights treaties – the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Convention Against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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Islamabad: The United Nations (UN) human rights chief Navi Pillay on Thursday called for a UN investigation into US drone strikes in Pakistan, questioning their legality and saying they kill innocent civilians.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay made the remarks at the end of a four-day visit to the country, where US drone strikes have on average targeted militants once every four days under US President Barack Obama.

Islamabad is understood to have approved the strikes on Al Qaeda and Taliban targets in the past. But the government has become increasingly energetic in its public opposition as relations with Washington have nosedived.

“Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law,” Pillay told a news conference in Islamabad.

“The principle of distinction and proportionality and ensuring accountability for any failure to comply with international law is also difficult when drone attacks are conducted outside the military chain of command and beyond effective and transparent mechanisms of civilian or military control,” she said.

She said the attacks violate human rights.

“I see the indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians in any circumstances as human rights violations.”

The UN human rights chief provided no statistics but called for an investigation into civilian casualties, which she said were difficult to track.

“Because these attacks are indiscriminate it is very, very difficult to track the numbers of people who have been killed,” she said.

“I suggested to the government that they invite the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Summary or Arbitrary Executions and he will be able to investigate some of the incidents.”

She said that UN chief Ban Ki-moon had urged states to be “more transparent” about circumstances in which drones are used and take necessary precautions to ensure that the attacks involving drones comply with applicable international law.

“So therefore I stress the importance of investigating such cases and ensuring compensation and redress to the victims.”

Washington releases few details about its covert drone programme in Pakistan but on Wednesday US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described them as self-defence and promised that they would continue to target Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan will address a public gathering outside the United Nations on Friday July 1 to protest against the US drone attacks in Pakistan. “Imran Khan will address a public meeting at United Nations against US drone attacks and try to wake the conscience of the international community,” sources said. Khan had also participated in rallies against drone strikes in the Tribal Areas and had also temporarily blocked the NATO supplies to condemn the drone strikes.

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